Photo Credit: Iwona Castiello d'Antonio@aquadrata
I was once fairly fast. Now I am really slow! My wife Julie calls my running
form the old man shuffle!
I am good with the old man shuffle. Being old and slow now represents a lot of life lessons learned.
The days of youth pass quickly, even though we think at the time they will last forever.
Looking back, I am amazed I’ve run now for going on 52 years.
I started running before it was cool to do so. When I ran down Martin Way in Lacey, Washington before my teenage years, I was met with occasional vulgarity, old banana peels, and beer cans thrown at my face.
It seems like being a runner on the road was some sort of target of the bullies of that era. I was the geek doing something different, they were the cool kids puffing their chests.
Funny, all those catcalls and banana peels didn't discourage me one bit, they actually fired me up in a good way. I’ll show them was my attitude at the time. I'll use this somehow for good and get even better.
I don’t have it in my nature to strike back. I've always tried to use the bullies of life to get better, not bitter.
I remember another time in a Junior High PE class when the teacher said that “if anyone can beat Weber around this grass loop, they will get an A in this class”.
So, as soon as the teacher was out of sight, two or three guys pushed me down to the ground really hard so they could get a head start. They thought pushing me to the ground was pretty funny.
I remember this amazing desire came over me after they threw me down on the ground. I picked myself up off the ground and slowly caught the pack and won the race in the last 50 yards or so of about a 1200-meter race.
The teacher wondered why I didn’t win by more that day. I never told him what happened. I wanted to deal with this situation myself.
No one was going to get an A on my watch that day for doing something wrong.
Funny, I think the intimidators that day were in shock and in a good way, respected what I had done. They left me alone after that day.
I took the lessons I learned from childhood running into adulthood. When more seriously attacked by adult bullies, I always try my best to avoid bitterness by somehow serving, loving, or helping others more than ever before.
Intentionally turning a negative situation somehow into a positive outcome is always best. Doing good eventually conquers negative or evil intent.
As I look back, there are many life lessons we can take from those who want to push us down in life.
Get better, not bitter. Don’t strike back, lead the pack. Use the bullies of life to accomplish even greater things in life. Don’t retaliate, use that extra energy to win whatever race God has set before you.
As I shuffle down the road as an old man now, I think about all the lessons I learned through my running career. Rise above adversity, get a backbone when things are tough, and use what was intended for evil for good come to mind.
I may not be as fast as the old days, but I can still outrun those bullies by giving it all I’ve got to help, love, and serve others.
Yes, I am good with the old man shuffle. That old slow shuffle represents key life lessons learned through running in challenging situations over the course of a lifetime.
Questions for prayer and reflection
1. How can you use what was intended for evil for good?
2. What does the Bible say about retaliation?
3. How can the bullies of life motivate you to love and serve others even more?
Read Proverbs 22, Romans 12:19, Romans 12: 17-21, and 1 Thessalonians 5:15 for more on why you should not retaliate